Singapore University of Social Sciences

Adult Learning, Learners and Their Contexts

Adult Learning, Learners and Their Contexts (BXL641)


Adult learners are diverse, and bring different expertise, needs and experiences to learning opportunities. To understand learners and their learning, learners will examine diverse instances of adult learning in differing contexts, and in the process examine learning theories and the assumptions behind the major learning theories. Through this process, they will critically analyse major trends in adult learning such as the use of technology, workplace learning, self-directed learning, and what such trends mean for learners. Learners can flourish or struggle in different contexts that afford differing learning opportunities and challenges and contribute or not, to enhancing identities as a learner, and professional identities. To uncover learners’ experiences, circumstances and biographies and the kinds of knowledge and expertise they bring, course learners will undertake in depth interviews with a small number of adult learners, and in the process develop some knowledge of interviewing design and technique. By delving deeper into interpretations of these interviews, assumptions about knowledge, about learners and learning will be uncovered, contributing to a reframing of beliefs and assumptions about learners, learning, knowledge and skills, and their theoretical perspectives.

Level: 6
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY REGULAR SEMESTER


  • Your beliefs about learners, learning, knowledge and skills
  • The value of knowledge and learning theory as a learning practitioner and leader
  • Adult learners: who are they – in their work settings, in classrooms/educational settings and in
  • New understandings of adult learners and learning
  • Learning biographies
  • What learning theories make sense for what purposes?
  • Designing for interviewing
  • Conducting and analysing interviews
  • Trends in adult learning
  • Knowing, knowledge, skills, capabilities and identity – how they mediate possibilities
  • What supports and enhances adult learners’ learning?
  • Learners’ own learning journey

Learning Outcome

  • Critique the major learning theories
  • Examine different kinds of knowledge and their value
  • Deconstruct assumptions about adult learners and learning
  • Analyse opportunities and challenges different learning contexts offer
  • Design in-depth interviews and analytical techniques
  • Evaluate their beliefs about adult learners and learning
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